Willowbrook downs Downers Grove South
For a team that didn't win a conference championship, Willowbrook's kids were in a celebrating kind of mood Wednesday.
They had good reason to be, too.
After Downers Grove South clinched the West Suburban Gold title with a 9-1 win in the resumption of an earlier suspended game, Willowbrook came back to take the regularly scheduled contest 6-4 in eight innings in Downers Grove.
How big a deal is it? It's believed to be only the second time in 21 years that Willowbrook has beaten perennial Gold power Downers Grove South.
It was enough to earn Warriors coach Rachel Karos a postgame shower from her girls.
"It's been a long time since we've even been able to compete with them," Karos said. "I'm really proud with how we bounced back. We very easily could have rolled over and died. We came out hungry."
Willowbrook (18-9, 9-3) led the second game 4-1, then watched Downers Grove South (17-9, 11-1) claw back to tie it in the sixth on Caitlyn Daly's two-out run-scoring double.
Unfazed, the Warriors surged right back ahead with 2 runs in the eighth. Lauren Sauer's bloop single scored courtesy runner Nicole Talan with the go-ahead run, and Jordan Marczewski's hard-hit infield single brought in Delaney Pelsor.
"It's a big win for us," said Sauer, who earlier doubled in a run. "Going from not winning at all a few years ago to now, it's amazing."
The first game was picked up in the top of the fifth of a game suspended May 15 due to lightning, Downers Grove South leading 2-1.
The Mustangs put it out of reach with 3 runs in the fifth, and 4 more in the seventh. Jessica Andree went 4-for-4, with a 2-run double Wednesday adding to the 2-run homer she hit back on May 15.
It is Downers Grove South's eighth straight Gold championship, 18th over the last 21 years.
Even more impressive is that it came after graduating eight seniors.
"It's been tough because we lost all those seniors, but these younger girls have left everything they have on the field. That's all you can ask," Andree said. "We were pumped today to win that conference championship. I think what happened in that second game, we all took a deep breath and we kind of let up, which we shouldn't have."
In fact Mustangs coach Ron Havelka wasn't too pleased with his team's Game 2 execution. A couple errors were compounded by a few more mental mistakes in the field, and a baserunning error that cut short the tying sixth-inning rally.
"We have to be much more fundamentally sound," Havelka said. "If we're going to have a chance in the regionals against either one of the Napervilles we have to be better than that. We can be real good."
Sauer and Erin Sporer had 2 hits, Sporer's single starting the eighth-inning rally in Game 2.
Karos' Warriors are now 11-2 since a four-game losing streak the last week of April, playing more like the team expected to contend in the Gold.
"We've just been a lot more consistent," Karos said. "This is such a confidence game. When it's not going your way it's very easy to feel down in the dumps. When things start breaking your way, you feel on top of the world. I think we were making that week in April much harder than it had to be. We forgot that we're a good team. I think we found our confidence again and it's neat to see."
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